There are a variety of conditions that cause a child to have difficulty controlling his/her bladder and/or bowels. This can include urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and constipation. A physical therapist can educate children and their families about proper bowel and bladder habits, dietary modifications, and pelvic floor awareness and control. Children can learn where their pelvic floor muscles are, how to contract and relax them, and how to use them properly to avoid accidents. A non-surgical method called Biofeedback can help children correctly use and relax the pelvic floor muscles that help with bladder and bowel control.
Pediatric bladder and bowel dysfunction is a condition that can be treated. Dysfunctional elimination in children occurs when the child is having a problem either holding or releasing urine or stool. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and other tissues that form a sling from the pubic bone to the tailbone. They help to support the abdominal and pelvic organs and to control bladder and bowel activity.
Their pelvic floor muscles may not be working together with the bladder and/or bowel, and the normal voiding or emptying reflexes can be disrupted. This can lead to a chronic abnormal pattern of elimination which does not allow the bladder or bowel to empty completely. Some children experience difficulty urinating or controlling their bladder function, frequent bladder infections, constipation, not urinating enough during the day, or difficulty sensing bladder fullness. Children may periodically have leakage during the day or wake up wet in the morning or both. This can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Physical Therapy is a non-invasive approach that can be very effective in helping your child gain control and independence with bowel and bladder function.
Biofeedback is used to help retrain dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for bladder and bowel function and control. Special sensors are attached to your skin so they can pick up the electrical activity from these muscles. Your muscle activity will be displayed on a computer screen and you will be able to practice how to properly use and relax your pelvic floor muscles.
Images and sounds are combined with computer games to provide the best “feedback” to help you identify these muscles and become more aware of what is going on in your body to help relief your bladder and bowel symptoms. Here are some examples of the imagery that’s used: